President Donald Trump's newly appointed Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is serious about undoing current net neutrality regulations.
During a speech at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Pai called Obama administration net neutrality regulations a "mistake" as he pledged to "embrace what works and dispense with what doesn't."
"The torch at the FCC has been passed to a new generation, dedicated to renewal as well as change," Pai said. Calling for a "light-touch Internet regulation," he said the FCC is "on track to returning to that successful approach."
With former President Barack Obama's support, Pai's predecessor Tom Wheeler in 2014 pushed to classify broadband as a telecom service under Title II of the Communications Act rather than an information service. That gave the FCC more authority to regulate ISPs, and provided its net neutrality rules a stronger legal footing after years of court battles. The commission voted 3-2 in Feb. 2015 to approve the proposal.
During his speech at MWC, Pai likened the move to "last-century, utility-style regulation.
"Rules developed to tame a 1930s monopoly were imported into the 21st century to regulate the internet," he said. "This reversal wasn't necessary to solve any problem; we were not living in a digital dystopia. The policies of the Clinton Administration, the Bush Administration and the first term of the Obama Administration had produced both a free and open internet and strong incentives for private investment in broadband infrastructure."
He argued that current regulations "injected tremendous uncertainty into the broadband market," and said that stymied growth.
Going forward, "America's approach to broadband policy will be practical, not ideological," Pai said.
Pai's comments come after the FCC last week officially voted to exempt ISPs with 250,000 or fewer subscribers from the transparency requirements in the agency's net neutrality rules. The move, the FCC says, will free these ISPs "to devote more resources to operating, improving and building out their networks."